Bareback riding is one of the wildest and most physically demanding events in the rodeo. Bareback riding is in the “rough stock” category meaning it is judged by combining the score of the rider and the score of the bucking horse. A successful bareback ride includes a spurring cowboy and a bucking bronco. It is believed that bareback riding was the start of the rodeo tradition. Back in 1864 two neighboring ranches in Deer Trail, Colo. met to settle an argument about which ranch hands were better at performing daily ranching activities. Among the activities in that historic meeting was bareback riding.


There are not too many situations where a rodeo event is described as “elegant.” Barrel racing is the exception. Watching the horse and rider work together in perfect harmony at a full run with dirt flying can make a spectator forget to breathe. The contestant can choose to go to the left barrel or right, whichever. A 360 turn is required around the barrel to the next barrel opposite it, then around that to the third and last barrel for the final turn. Then the race is on to the finish line.


This rodeo event features a calf and one rider. The calves are moved through a narrow pathway leading to a chute with spring-loaded doors. A 10 foot rope is fastened around the calf’s neck; this ensures the calf a head start. The contestant is behind a taut rope fastened with an easily broken string. The string is fastened to the rope on the calf. When the roper is ready she calls for the calf, the chute man trips a lever opening the doors. The calf reaches the end of his rope; it pops off and simultaneously releases the barrier for the roper. The breaking of the string marks the end of the run. Fastest run wins.


Freestyle bullfighting is a style of bullfighting developed in American rodeo. The style was developed by the rodeo clowns who protect bull riders from being trampled or gored by an angry bull. Freestyle bullfighting is a 60-second competition in which the bullfighter (rodeo clown) avoids the bull by means of dodging, jumping and use of a barrel. When not working to protect bull riders, rodeo clowns also have their own performances.] A typical format is a 60-second encounter between bull and bullfighter, in which the bullfighter scores points for various maneuvers.


Bull riding is perhaps the most exciting event to watch. A cowboy tries to ride a bull for eight seconds while holding a bull rope looped around the bull’s midsection. Scoring is based on a possible perfect score of 100 points, with half deriving from the contestant’s efforts and half the bull’s. Sounds simple enough but it’s not. With angry bulls weighing up to a ton trying to throw their cowboy riders off, it’s one of rodeo’s most unpredictable events.


Rodeo’s classic event – saddle bronco riding -- was truly born in the Old West, where ranch cowboys would test themselves against one another and unbroken horses. Not much has changed. Today the cowboys are still climbing aboard bucking horses and the competition between man and man -- and man and horse -- remains as intense as ever. Judges score the horse’s bucking action and the cowboy’s control of the horse combined with his spurring action. While the horse’s bucking ability is naturally built into the scoring system, a smooth rhythmic ride is sure to score better than a wild uncontrolled one.


The concept seems straight forward enough: Jump from a horse, grab a steer by the horns and wrestle it to the ground, stopping the clock as quickly as possible. Easily said, not easily done. Timing, technique, strength and the horsemanship of the hazer, who guides the steer in a straight path for the cowboy, are the primary factors of this popular event.


Team roping is team work in action. Success takes two teammates anticipating each other’s moves and the antics of a steer on the run. It’s rodeo art in motion. One cowboy works as the header, roping the steer around the horns, neck or a horn-neck combination. Then he turns the steer to the left so that the heeler can ride in and rope both of the steer’s hind legs. A roper is allowed 3 loops.


A tie-down roping run begins with a mounted cowboy giving a head start to a calf of about 250 pounds, then giving chase down the arena. After roping the calf, the cowboy dismounts, runs down the rope (which is anchored to the saddle horn), lays the calf on its side and ties any three of its legs together with a “piggin’ string” he carries clenched in his teeth and looped through his belt Needless to say, it requires a great athlete accomplish the mad dash in a matter of a few seconds.